Well, yesterday in New York City, listening to Mayor Bill de Blasio announce that the city had just filed a lawsuit against five oil majors and meant to divest $5 billion from fossil fuel companies, I actually felt it.
NY became the largest American city to sue Big Oil, demanding that ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, Royal Dutch Shell and ConocoPhillips pay for the cost of protecting the city from the "existential threat" of climate change.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, center, announced that the city is suing five major oil companies over climate change.
New York's US$189 billion pension fund - held for city employees such as police officers, teachers and firefighters - now has around US$5 billion in securities of more than 190 fossil fuel companies, officials said.
In addition, the trustees of New York City's five pension funds, worth US$189bn, including mayor Bill de Blasio and comptroller Scott Stringer, have announced plans to divest all funds from fossil fuel reserve owners within five years, a total of around US$5bn. Within five years, roughly $5 billion dollars could be divested from the city's $189 billion pension funds.
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The city of NY joins the state of NY in taking legal action against ExxonMobil, a company that was once headquartered in Manhattan. NY state has already announced it is exploring how to divest from fossil fuels. Currently, New York City's five pension funds have about $5bn in fossil fuel investments.
The New York lawsuit follows recent ones filed by San Francisco, Oakland and other California cities and counties. Under Trump, the federal government has attempted the withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accords, tear up Barack Obama's signature climate policies and open up vast areas of America's land and waters to coal, oil and gas interests.
"President Trump should know that climate change is a dagger aimed straight at the heart of New York City", he said. The lawsuit includes an exhibit of evidence-a letter sent on November 12, 1982 to Exxon's management and personnel by M. B. Glaser, the company's manager of environmental affairs programs, which projects average global temperatures rising by as much as 3 degrees Celsius by the year 2100, a level climate scientists today say would be catastrophic. The other oil majors intimated similar messages, while also acknowledging that there needs to be some sort of large-scale effort to address climate change, although they were vague on what that actually meant in practice.
New York's suit is particularly notable because its attorney general is investigating whether ExxonMobil misled investors about its risks to climate change. "They should light up the Empire State Building in green tonight - for the money the city is going to save, and for the planet it will help protect in the process", he said in a New York Daily News op-ed.
While a spokesman from Shell said climate change was a complex issue that the courts shouldn't handle, the other four did not comment.
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New York's lawsuit is one of four in the federal court system now.
"This is what climate leadership looks like".
"Today Mayor de Blasio turned his back millions of first responders, police officers and public employees who depend on their pensions to provide for themselves and their families in retirement", said Karen Moreau of the American Petroleum Institute, the largest USA oil and gas lobbying group. That study also showed that 80 percent of NY members believe their pensions are fully-funded.
The city now spends millions of dollars dealing with the effects of disasters caused by climate change, according to writer and activist Naomi Klein, author "No Is Not Enough" and co-founder of The Leap.
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